WASHINGTON, September 4, 2013 — The Muslim majority country of Malaysia has banned Richmond, Virginia based heavy metal band Lamb of God from performing.
Islamic officials claimed that the Grammy nominated group’s work is blasphemous.
The Rockaway Festival concert in Kuala Lumpur was scheduled for September 28 but the government refused to issue the proper permits for the show. The communication and multimedia ministry said that it would not issue the permits because they believe the show could infringe on Malaysia’s religious sensitivities and cultural values.
“Lamb of God had drawn many controversies and was dubbed a “satanic” band that fitted evil spirituality and anti-godliness even by the Christian community,” the Department of Islamic Development told a local newspaper.
Organizers also claimed that they were cancelling the show for the protection of the band due to reported death threats. More than 1,500 tickets had already been sold.
The band posted a response on their Facebook page expressing their disappointment and contradicting the claims made by the Malaysian government.
The band released the following statement:
“It is very evident (and a bit frustrating) that the groups, parties and powers that have taken the most offense to our music and lyrics, have themselves only made a passing glance at the content and meanings of those songs. We would invite anyone offended by our music to engage in a discussion regarding the true motivations behind our work, especially before publicly slandering us based on assumptions and shallow misinterpretation.”
“We sincerely apologize to our amazing fans in Malaysia for the cancellation. Many thanks to all who have spoken out in support of us through this.”
Lamb of God drew the attention of the Malaysian government because they sometimes mix excerpts from the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, with heavy metal music.
The band’s music often has double meanings. They often use biblical references in their music but are conveying anti-religious meanings. Many of their songs carry political stands, such as their instrumental piece “Hourglass” which uses audio recordings of Marine Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey giving an interview about the war to express their criticism of the war in Iraq.
Bass player John Campbell describes Lamb of God’s music as “a punk band that plays heavy metal.”
The band still plans on following through with their other concerts scheduled for this month in New Zealand, Australia and Thailand.
Lamb of God is the second well known American act in less than two years to be refused permits by Malaysian authorities for religious reasons. In February last year the government banned a show by R&B musician Erykah Badu on the night before her performance, saying a photo of her body art was offensive to Muslims. The offensive temporary tattoo was the Arabic word for Allah written on her bare shoulder.
Lamb of God is also banned from an iconic musical venue in the United States.
Since 2005, the band has not been allowed to perform at Los Angeles’s arena The Forum. The venue is owned by the FaithfulCentralBibleChurch who will not allow the band to play on their stage due to the bands prior name of Burn the Priest. The band became Lamb of God in 2000.
This is not the first international controversy the band has been involved in. In June 2012, in an unrelated dispute, the Czechoslovakian police arrested lead singer, Randy Blythe for an incident at a 2010 concert.
Blythe was charged for causing intentional bodily harm after a 19 year old fan climbed up on the stage. The fan hit his head on the floor after a fall and later died from the injury. The singer was released on bail after 37 days in jail but was indicted on charges in December of that same year.
The verdict stated that Blythe had thrown the teen, Nosek off the stage and therefore had a moral responsibility for the fan’s death but was not criminally responsible. The court claimed most of the blame was the fault of the shows promoters and the security members. The decision was appealed by the State Attorney and the acquittal was upheld.
Lamb of God has had three albums in the top ten on the U.S. charts.